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Showing posts from October, 2017

TB106- Food Security, Africa, Biotech and NGOs.

In this week's podcast we speak with science journalist and author Mark Lynas.  Mark has been a central figure in the discussion of biotechnology, particularly in regard to its role in ensuring food security in the Developing World.   In the 1990’s and early 2000’s you could find Mark destroying test plots of genetically engineered crops.  Later he would reconsider his view, and support the technology, especially as it can be applied to help issues of food security.  Mark discusses the situation on the ground in Africa, the various threats to production, the innovations that can address them, and the resistance toward adoption of new technology.  Follow Mark Lynas at @mark_lynas

Addressing Claims of Herbicide in Orange Juice

Moms Across America turns their slander machine on orange juice producers, seeking to harm an industry that it currently fighting for its survival.  Here's how farmers, scientists and concerned citizens can counter that information. The article appears in Citrus Industry

Amazon Deletes Review, Protects Bottom Line

I used to really trust Amazon.  Product reviews were important because you could see who was a verified purchaser, and then use their guidance to aid in decisions.  Not anymore.  Amazon is now in the business of deleting reviews that could affect their corporate bottom line.  This sort of smacks of conspiracy, but it makes sense.  The book "Whitewash" by Carey Gillam was released last week. Gillam is a vicious anti-biotech activist that has distorted the truth and outright lied about science for over a decade.  I have not read the book, but I will.  I suspect it is more of her nonsense.  I don't agree with everything Stephan Niedenbach says and does, but this review is consistent with the science behind the chemistry, and the track record of Carey Gillam. It was removed from Amazon's reviews of the book to ensure the slander of conventional farming and more profits for Whole Foods/Amazon. The whole thing is covered best by @mem_somerville here.  In

Moms Against America Targets OJ

For several years now I've discussed why you should never trust Moms Against America. The organization is run by Zen Honeycutt, someone with zero scientific training that makes a living by harming farmers and indicting scientists that work for public good. She also is against vaccination and raises money to fund billboards mom-shaming parents into buying organic food.  Now she has set her target on orange producers, and I'm officially abandoning my gentle persuasion and as we say in the hockey arena, I'm "dropping the gloves".  This report is inexcusable, it is disgusting and it harms an industry that is already collapsing.  What is she trying to do?  From her comfortable well-appointed home in California, Zen Honeycutt, someone demonstrated to lie about science, attacks an industry that is taking a beating from disease and hurricanes .   Zen Honeycutt has a history of falsifying information to advance her agenda of scaring parents away from food.

Zombie Cancer Rats Spread Fear

It is the zombie of the food activist world.  It is really sad that images from a poorly constructed, massively criticized, non-reproduced claim connecting rats with tumors to GE crops continues to serve as their best argument against technology. This image was taken by Dr. Prakash at the World Food Prize yesterday.   Don't forget to show the control!  He get's tumors too.   Just like the activists that frighten parents from vaccines, these well-fed protesters seek to disable tools that help the American farmer and provide needed technology to the Developing World.  And the retracted paper that nobody repeated or believes, continues to influence the social acceptance of good technology. I wrote about this in depth in a recent Medium piece . 

TB 104 Post Harvest Solutions in Food Security

Eighty percent of African farmers are small holder subsistence farmers. In numbers this means that each one farms a couple of acres to feed themselves.  Grain or beans are harvested and dried, and then a race begins, as stored grains are prone to infestation with insects and fungi. Some fungal invasions produce aflatoxins, potent carcinogens.  Small farmers also sell grain, but when they are selling, so are their neighbors.  Prices are low, and they frequently buy back their grain at a higher price.    The solution is effective storage, and hermetically sealed (airtight) storage retards the growth of any organism that could damage the seeds.   Today's podcast is about that storage. It is an interview with Brett Rierson and how different solutions are distributed by the World Food Programme.  It also reminds us that sometimes the best solution is the most low-tech solution. 

Rethinking Communication- Ranchers, Beef Industry

I'm in Denver, CO, my flight is delayed, and I'm feeling exhausted.  I really want to go home and I'm absolutely sick of traveling. But it is so worth it.  Every week I look at the calendar with dread, but after every trip I'm grateful for the opportunity, and glad to meet so many wonderful people.  I was able to attend the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef Communicators Conference and it was an amazing morning.  It was a small meeting of industry reps, producers and retailers.  The central theme was the idea of sustainability-- a fuzzy term in many respects.  We sometimes have a hard time defining it, but we know it when we see it.   I don't think this kind of thing would have happened even five years ago.  The need for precise, honest and consistent messaging around the things ag does well has never been more important. Now farmers, ranchers, and associated industries are stepping into it, impressively.  Really sweet to meet such wonderful profes

The Misleading and Deceitful Ways of US-RTK

If you are unsure about genetic engineering or believe that food science is dangerous, please read the following.  If you think scientists are paid dupes of industry and activists aren't, you see it is exactly the other way around.  If you think US-RTK or the Organic Consumers Association are honest peddlers of the truth, please read objectively and reach out if you have any questions.  This is important.  Take it on with an open mind, and ask yourself, "Who is lying to me?"  Thanks.  Conventional wisdom says that when someone is aggressively spreading false information about you, it is best to just let it slide.  People are smart enough to figure it out, so just keep doing good work and let that speak for itself.  That's pretty much how I've been handling the inane criticism from US-RTK, Thacker, GM Watch and the rest of the web's libel artists.  Why respond?  Does anyone really care what they say?  Not really.  Their hate speech and falsehoods get a handf

The Rats that Kill

How can a scientific paper have a body count?  When it successfully maligns a technology and influences policy decisions. Looking back five years now at Seralini et al., 2012, a paper that instilled fear, influenced policy, and permanently shapes public opinion on the internet-- despite never being replicated or expanded. Here is my discussion on Medium.